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A fantasy draft is all about obtaining the most value with each selection. There is value available throughout a draft, and grabbing it is one of the most important keys to a successful fantasy team. This article specifically targets deep sleeper value (which can be found very late in a fantasy draft). In an attempt to point out this value, we asked our staff to look deeper than the Top 150 and identify players that should significantly outperform their late draft position. These players should be your targets after the 12th round of your draft.
Here is the player who received the most votes:
- Chuba Hubbard, and it wasn't that close
And here are all of the payers mentioned and the reasons why.
Player Receiving 6 Votes
Chuba Hubbard, Carolina
Sigmund Bloom: Which backup running back was the most valuable in the NFL last year? The one backing up Christian McCaffery - Mike Davis. While we want to see McCaffrey play 17 games and earn his No. 1 overall value this year, if he doesn't, the Panthers' fourth-round pick, Hubbard, will be the next man up and have a good chance to help fantasy teams this year. Panthers head coach Matt Rhule knows Hubbard's game well after he ran for 171 yards and two scores against Baylor in 2019, and he said his wife implored him to take Hubbard when he was still there while the Panthers were on the clock.
Victoria Geary: Christian McCaffrey played an average of 92% of snaps per game in 2018 and 2019. After his injury-riddled 2020 season, it remains to be seen if the coaching staff adjusts their mindset on McCaffrey's workhorse usage. With Mike Davis leaving in free agency, Hubbard has the potential to carve out a role worthy of some solid FLEX weeks.
Jeff Haseley: Whomever the back is in Carolina's offense has the ability to produce fantasy points. We saw that with Mike Davis last season in place of the injured McCaffrey. Hubbard was one of the top college running backs after the 2019 season totaling over 2,000 yards rushing with 21 touchdowns. The 2020 season saw a drop-off in production that ultimately led to him opting out after seven games. Hubbard has the tools to be the next best behind McCaffrey and could have fantasy relevance later in the season, especially if an injury elevates his usage.
Ryan Hester: A fourth-round rookie being Christian McCaffrey’s clear backup suggests more about McCaffrey’s secure workload than Hubbard’s potential. But in the event of another injury to fantasy football’s top pick, Hubbard would inherit nearly the same role. While inexperienced at the NFL level, Hubbard has the skill set to make plays on every down.
Chad Parsons: While Hubbard slid in the NFL Draft to Day 3, his profile is a sturdy one to project potential NFL starts with strong upside. Christian McCaffrey returns from injury and the injury-away role, which produced an impact 2020 from Mike Davis, has Hubbard as the betting favorite. Rodney Smith is a deep sleeper as the incumbent, plus Trenton Cannon and Reggie Bonnafon have also spent more time in Carolina than Hubbard. However, Hubbard's profile and upside dwarf any other non-McCaffrey back on the roster.
Jason Wood: Christian McCaffrey is the No. 1 overall fantasy pick again this year despite missing the majority of last season. Mike Davis -- the definition of journeyman -- was an every-week fantasy starter in McCaffrey's absence. Imagine what a young, talented, fresh-legged tailback like Hubbard can do with the same opportunity?
Players Receiving 3 Votes
Phillip Lindsay, Houston
James Brimacombe: The Houston backfield might be the hardest to predict in all of football with David Johnson, Mark Ingram II, Rex Burkhead, and Phillip Lindsay all occupying the depth chart. Houston is set up to have one of the worst teams in the NFL this season, and if that is the case, I don't see a path for Johnson and Ingram to get heavy workloads. Lindsay has shown over his career that he has an underdog mentality and is the type of player that won't back down from any situation, no matter how bad it can get. Lindsay finished as RB13 and RB19 before his injury-riddled final season in Denver. He is worthy of a late-round pick to prove all the doubters wrong once again.
Jeff Haseley: After two strong years in Denver in a part-time role, Phillip Lindsay's shine lost a bit of luster in 2020. Injuries to his knee, hip, and ankle held him to 11 games last year, where he ultimately finished outside of the Top 60 to end the season. He's a versatile overachiever who will fight for playing time. He'll compete with Mark Ingram II for touches in the backfield behind David Johnson and could be fantasy-relevant, especially if an injury elevates his standing on the depth chart.
Jason Wood: Lindsay was unceremoniously cast aside in Denver and landed in Houston -- arguably the league's worst team. He has the likes of David Johnson, Mark Ingram II, and Rex Burkhead vying for touches, too. But Lindsay was arguably as good on a per-snap basis as Melvin Gordon III in the Mile High City and has youth on his side relative to his Texans peers. If Houston is in full rebuild mode, wouldn't it make sense to give the youngest back in the committee a long leash to see if he warrants a multi-year extension?
Rashaad Penny, Seattle
James Brimacombe: The buzz for Chris Carson continues to pick up steam as the offseason moves along and even more so when the news about Penny having a slow recovery from his 2019 ACL/meniscus injury. Penny was slowly eased into playing time in 2020 but just played 38 snaps the final three weeks of the season. Penny will be battling for the reserve role behind Carson with Travis Homer, Alex Collins, and DeeJay Dallas. This is Penny's last opportunity to show his worth to the Seahawks in what looks to be a make or break type of season.
Drew Davenport: The knee injury suffered at the end of 2019 is still having a ripple effect as Penny didn't play much last year, and he's already had a cleanup procedure during this calendar year. But, the actions of the team say quite a bit. Their depth chart is mediocre, and they didn't move to sign anyone in free agency. When Penny got hurt, he was coming off a two-game stretch where it appeared the Seahawks were ready to use him as a complement to Chris Carson. In those two games, he posted 29 carries, 4 receptions, 236 total yards, and 3 touchdowns. Watch Penny's health closely in the next eight weeks, and if he can show he's ready to go, he should earn significant touches for Seattle this year.
Ryan Hester: Penny hasn’t returned the value Seattle hoped for when they made him a first-round pick. And this could be the last season he’s given a chance to do so. Penny is clearly a backup to Chris Carson, but he’s the most well-suited player to step in and lead the backfield in touches in the event of an injury.
Players Receiving 2 Votes
Giovani Bernard, Tampa Bay
Sigmund Bloom: Bernard has fallen off of the radar in redraft leagues, but he could revive the James White role for Tom Brady and be the most consistent fantasy running back in the Bucs backfield in PPR leagues. We already know Bernard is the best suited to play on passing downs and in the two-minute drill offense. Those situations should produce valuable targets and scoring opportunities for Bernard. Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones II are also prone to developments that put them in the doghouse, while Bernard usually plays assignment sound football and earns his coach's and teammates' trust.
Jeff Haseley: Tampa has several running back options in Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones II, Ke'Shawn Vaughn, and Bernard, but the glaring low point last year was Brady's lack of a consistent go-to receiving back in the James White mold that he gravitated to so often in New England. White and Bernard were members of the same backfield in high school, and they have long been good friends. It made sense for Bernard to sign with Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, especially after talking to White about the move. My gut says Bernard will be used in a similar role to White's when he and Brady were teammates with the Patriots. Tampa has more weapons and downfield options than Brady had in New England, but the James White role that featured north of 60 receptions on average should be similar. Bernard has a greater-than-zero chance of reaching 50 receptions in 2021.
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